Kaisa Keranen credits exercising with saving her life.
Her experience prompted her to start a brand that looked at fitness as a form of mental health rather than just a means to lose weight.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, the Just Move founder talks about “faking it til you make it” and creating a startup without having a background in business.
Keranen experienced a deep depression from a very young age after she transferred from a small private school to a large public one. She threw herself into sports and exercise as a way to distract her mind from dark thoughts.
“I was starting to become more confident in who I was,” Keranen said of her junior year of high school. “And I was also becoming a star soccer player. And so that's really where my movement journey started, but it's also where my deep, deep appreciation for my body and for how movement ultimately saved my life [came from].”
The life lesson she learned as a teenager became the foundation for her company.
“Everyone was like, ‘I have the million-dollar idea for you! Let's sell weight loss! Let's sell movement to look like you’, and I was like ‘I don’t want to do that…I don’t even just want to change the fitness industry; I want to change the world’.”
Long before she considered pitching her idea as a business, Keranen was trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She knew she wanted to focus on fitness, but at that time wasn’t sure how: did she want to become a personal trainer? A social worker? A coach for student athletes?
Her experience working as a trainer at a local gym helped her realize she could help change the way people thought about fitness and their bodies. She created a “smart” training program for some of her middle-aged, female clients.
“They were starting to talk less and less about what their body looked like, and more and more about the weight they were lifting or how many pushups they had done.”
That sparked an idea: if she wanted to help other people feel good about themselves and their relationship to fitness, she needed a bigger platform. She turned to social media.
“Every single day, I would take my tripod, and I'd show up in a location with a fun outfit on,” she said. “And I would do crazy movements, because I thought, you know, social media is eye candy. And I had a goal of building my platform so that eventually I could sell products.”
The “products” Keranen wanted to sell were her own workout programs. After a year of building an audience on social media, she felt she could turn her approach into a business by collaborating with other companies.
“It was essentially like we were running two companies because [my brother and I] were managing partnerships on the social media side of things,” she said. “And then we were using that money to fund the products that we wanted to create. We also had no idea what we were doing.”
Keranen tells people that her success came from having a very clear direction for what she wanted her business to be, even though she didn’t yet have the experience to make it happen.
“I always had a North star,” she said. “I always knew that somehow, some way, I wanted to sell products to the masses, I wanted to sell movement to the masses.”
dot.la Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.
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